Perfect Weekend For Plato

Jason Plato enjoyed the perfect weekend at Knockhill, capturing the lead in the British Touring Car Championship drivers' standings with a maximum haul as Vauxhall wrapped up the manufacturers' title.

The 33-year-old secured every point available to him as he topped his class from pole position in both races to leapfrog team-mate Yvan Muller in the chase for the crown.

To do that, Plato needed the handy boost of the Frenchman's retirement from the feature event due to a power-steering failure. It means that with six meetings of the season remaining, Plato leads Muller by three points.

But while the drivers' battle could go all the way to the finale at Brands Hatch in October, the manufacturers' championship has been nothing a stroll for Vauxhall.

The only team at the start of the year who had any chance of stopping them, Peugeot, have been a major disappointment on their return to the series, never looking like challenging for victories.

Today was no exception, with Plato dominating the touring category at the tight Scottish circuit even though he was passed by Muller at the first corner of the sprint.

The Oxford driver regained the lead on lap four and gradually pulled away, only failing by 1.208 seconds to take overall victory as Simon Graves in a production-class Honda held on having started just under a whole lap ahead.

The feature was even more straightforward after a safety-car period following an accident, with Plato only relinquishing the lead when making his compulsory pit-stop for fresh tyres.

The stop went smoothly and with Muller out of race before the halfway mark, Plato coasted home 6.558secs ahead of Phil Bennett.

"It can't get any better than this weekend," said Plato. "It's a really good feeling - I'm well chuffed.

"We had such a good test session at Snetterton about a month ago when my engineer, John Morton, and I devised a new way of working together, with a bit of help from Derek Warwick, the team boss.

"We've started to be a bit more relaxed about things.

"But today isn't about me, it's about the team. We're only halfway through the championship yet Vauxhall have won the manufacturers' title and that's a tribute to how hard everyone has worked."

James Thompson, who drives for Vauxhall's 'satellite' team, Egg:Sport, is still in with a shout of the title just 16 behind Plato.

But the Yorkshireman's chances were reduced when, like Muller, his power steering failed in the feature race and although it did not prove terminal, he had to settle for third rather than chasing home Plato.